APRIL FOOL’S DAY in October

As normal, with large mug of
coffee in hand, I sat down at my computer to browse the sports news and
preview today’s match ups, in doing so I also glance through all types
of news and information cast upon me from the depths of the endless
sources known as the world wide web. Today was different, today I had to
check the calendar twice to make sure I hadn’t awoken in some freaky
episode of FlashForward. After reassuring myself it wasn’t April 1st, or
to some April Fool’s Day, in some other time zone I continued to check
out the news and reports.

What made me think it could
be April Fool’s Day

Was it that Charlie Manual
chose to use 2 perfectly good starters…

…NO…that could be
explained.

Was it that the new star of
the Red Birds, Matt Holliday chose the most inopportune moment to show,
something known as butter fingers in some children’s circles in
England…

…NO… that too could be
explained.

Maybe it was rumors that the

Cardinals
had been forced to make the signs around the ball park easier
to understand to prevent lawsuits from the visiting Dodgers and their
fans…

NO… that was
understandable.

It wasn’t even sports
related, it was the fact that staring me in the face on my opening web
page was the recipient of what has till now been a prestigious award,
known as the Nobel Peace Prize, I had to ask myself was this a joke, a
prank cast upon us by the AP, or is it some advance payment from
the Norwegian’s for something we will yet discover our government has
promised them. These and more questions I could not find answers too, in
an effort to see if this was to be an ongoing trend I found myself
checking out the Hollywood Awards to see if anything was changing, could
it be next year that this Nobel Prize winner would be receiving an
Oscar…

 

I just hope tomorrow puts me
back in October, where a state of limbo exists until the conclusion of
the MLB division series, till then we can only hope and pray something’s
will never happen

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Spell Check for the Phillies…

This week is going to be
a struggle to stay on top of things, work has become an issue, or rather
a time consuming event at the moment, so let me apologize in advance if
I miss commenting some of your blog’s, I will try and catch up at the
weekend, with that said my own blog will suffer and I may not get
another post in till the weekend, we will see how things transpire, so I
leave with these thoughts on the closers situation in Philadelphia.

How successful can a team
be with a 74% chance of your closer giving you a successful finish. At
this time it means you could be 4 1/2 games up in your division with 47
games left to play, with more than 50% of those against division rivals.
How important will your closer be during this final stretch. Well it’s
all a numbers game and if you make the math work for the worst scenario
then you could find yourself 1 game back at the end of the season, best
scenario is you will win the division by a sizeable margin, but we all
now that is less likely than worst scenario. It’s time to look at
alternatives to try and make sure we are going to have a better chance
to win the division and get to the play offs, after all isn’t that why
Pedro Martinez is pitching tonight, which is currently in a rain delay.

If we review Brad Lidge’s
stats we can decide if we should be at least trying to utilize someone
else, or restricting the situations when he actually comes into the
game. Recently, both Manuel and Amaro, expressed their confidence in
Lidge, with Charlie saying "he thinks Lidge needs just one clean
inning to get back on track"
, sorry Charlie, but I think he’s
missed that boat.

Career, Lidge averages
about 17 pitches per inning, 2008 he averaged 18 pitches per inning,
2009 he’s averaging 20 pitches per inning, this stat tells you he’s
losing something.

Career, Lidge saves about
84% of save opportunities, 2008 he was at 100%, 2009 he’s at 74%, again
says he’s losing something.

Career, Lidge averages
1.3 base runners per inning, 2008 he averaged 1.2, 2009 he is averaging
1.9, again says he’s losing something.

Career, Lidge averages 0.42
runs per inning, 2008 he averaged 0.24, 2009 he is averaging 0.88 runs
per inning, again says he’s losing something.

With all this in mind I
propose that if the Phillies will not look into other options than they
should at least consider a spelling change.

Lets face it a closer with attitude is
going to strike out more than he lets his fielders assist, so if you
can’t strike them out your going to be in greater jeopardy of BLOWING
the save as well as your hand.

The recommendation, try Chan Ho Park a
few times, what can he do that Lidge isn’t except save more games. If
Park is doing okay, send Lidge to ‘AAA’ to work out his problems, be
them physical or mental.


Brad Lidge…’it’s all about you’

When a team has got a lead going into the final inning of a baseball game it’s the closers job to come in and shut down the opposition so that your team gets the win. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the 9th, 10th or even more, and it doesn’t matter if your at home or on the road, it is without a doubt the primary responsibility of the closer to secure that win.

Yesterday in Atlanta the Phillies did exactly that, Cole Hamels pitched good, for him this season, through 6 innings, giving up just 2 runs on 3 hits, okay he walked 4, but still considering how he has performed this year, when it came to crunch time and the Phillies needed a good outing he gave us one.

The bullpen came in to relieve Hamels in the 7th inning and gave another good performance, shutting the Braves down in the 7th and 8th innings. So now its up to the closer, Brad Lidge, to enter the game and not give anything away. We have all seen him this year, but Charlie Manuel and his coaches still have confidence in Lidge to come out and do his job. Maybe its time to re-think Charlie, Lidge is not cutting it at the moment. Yes the error by Utley didn’t help, but then loading the bases, because your afraid of the strike zone doesn’t help either.

Trying to blow magic on your hand, like a magician, isn’t going to work Lidge, you shouldn’t have loaded the bases in the first place.

If this wasn’t a message to Charlie Manuel then I don’t know what would be, and if Lidge can’t do it, if he has some inner- self that’s giving him a hang-up, then he should be a man and tell Charlie, and save us all the continued embarrassment of sending a closer out there that nobody is afraid to face.

I could offer up some suggestions, I am sure many a blogger will, I am also sure many fans that don’t  blog here will be commenting at the ZoZone about what should be done and how to do it, but the bottom line is you get paid to make those decisions Charlie and it’s time you made one regarding Lidge. You had no trouble telling us “it’s for the best interest of the team”, when you sent Moyer to the pen, so how about that same attitude regarding the closers spot.

Today JA Happ goes to the mound, I just hope if this is a tight game and the Phillies have the lead at the end, we use an alternative to Lidge…


the CLIFF LEE show….

Cliff Lee made his debut as a Philadelphia Philly last night in San Francisco, he was acquired this week by the Phillies as a top addition to the Phillies starting rotation, this was his first start for a National League team having spent his major league career with the Cleveland Indians.

This was a chance for the fans and the Philly players to see what Ruben Amaro Jr. had acquired for the team, before the game Dubee and Manuel had said ‘they would sit back and watch, mostly, so they could see what he could do’.

Now before everyone gets overly excited and thinks that he is being put on a pedestal with expectations way above what he could possibly deliver, we all must understand it’s his first game and this cannot be expected every time he goes to the mound… you can hope… but don’t expect it. With that said Cliff Lee came out last night and looked like a natural born NL starting pitcher, the Phillies wanted a pitcher and they got one.

He showed poise and confidence….

lee1.jpg

He showed he could field his position…

leefield.jpg

and the Kung-Fu Panda was no match…

leepitch1.jpg

and this was just the 1st inning…

What we didn’t know was, could he swing a bat?…

he showed us…


leehit.jpg

not just once but twice…

leehit2.jpg

he hit a single and a double, with a short sharp swing, you’d almost think he had been through an intense Utley hitting course.

and he was enjoying it…

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but how would he fit in with the other Philly players?….

How couldn’t you fit in with the guys in the dugout….

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Cliff Lee is officially a Philly….

Yes there was other players on the field, and they all played their parts with the normal characteristics that the Philly players have, this may have only been a 5-1 win for the Phils, but if they had really hit with RISP, it could have been double digits for the Phil’s.

Ben Francisco had another start in place of the injured Victorino, who by the way, probably wont be back till Tuesday is my guess, had another good game with hard hits at each at bat, he picked up a hit and an RBI.

Well done!! the front office for the new players, initial showings make them an excellent fit for the reigning World Series Champions.

Joe Blanton the Phillies work horse, goes today against Lincecum, Phillies have had a tendancy to come alive when facing the Ace of the opposition, lets hope this happens tonight…


Back To Winning Ways, Phils take Padres 9-4

This was the make-up game that was PPD because of rain back on April 20th, before we get into the game itself, I think we need to give a thought to the San Diego Padres, who when this game was PPD was a winning team and playing very well, busoverloaded.jpgso the benefit with this has gone to Philadelphia, who’d have thought back then. In addition to that the Padres are in Washington this weekend, so the Padres bosses thought it would be beneficial to help their team out by flying into Washington late, then getting the bus to Philadelphia to play this game, then getting the bus back to Washington, and if anyone has ever travelled between Washington and Philly then you’ll know it’s not the best of times even in a vehicle you can kick back and relax in. We can at this point only assume that the Padres arrived at the ball park not very well relaxed and ready to play ball, however, I will say this the players played like they wanted to win, the problem was they were playing a team who is not only hot at the moment, but wanted to prove that yesterday’s afternoon game against the Cubs was an error on their part.

The Philadelphia Phillies of yesterday, literally, the team of Sloppy Joe’s (no offence to Joe)
EXPIREDsloppygiftcard.jpgwas nothing more than a day game following a night game where all the players were just sluggish and what seemed hung over.

A different story today, not just because they won, not because they won with authority, but because they played like they wanted to win and acted like they wanted to be there playing baseball. They just looked different, they had a spring in there step, even Utley who against the Cubs yesterday, looked as though he may be suffering, from some sort of injury, acted like he’d just come off a weeks rest, without any sign of an injury. The team was swinging the bat better, running the bases better, and more importantly today they were pitching better.

Cole Hamels came out throwing strikes, he had command of all his pitches and was showing all the elements he had as the 2008 ACE that we saw during the speed-bump.jpgWorld Series, he hit a minor speed bump in the top of the 4th inning where he gave up 3
runs on 3 hits. Hamels ended the day with a solid 7 innings, 3 runs, 4 hits, 2 walks with 6 strike outs. Carpenter who had just been re-introduced to the big’s today came in, in relief of Hamels to start the 8th inning managed to get a batter out on a fly ball, then gave up a couple of hits, with a run and a walk, Manuel not wanting to let this slip away, nipped this in the bud early and went to the pen again for Chan Ho Park who has been nothing but exceptional from the pen. It didn’t even seem to phase him, 1 pitch and he was out of the 8th inning, it did take a very unusual double play by Feliz and Utley, a  5-4-5 double play. I am not sure what the base runner was thinking, but it certainly put a smile on the face of Utley and Feliz as they ran to the dug out, even as late in the game as this was, it was just another sign that the Phillies were here to play, they were having fun out there. Park came out in the top of the 9th to finish the game off, he did it as calm as he started with 3 outs, he ended up pitching 1.2 shut out innings.

The Offence went to work in the bottom of the 2nd inning and never looked back, by the end of the 4th inning everybody, except Ruiz and Hamels had had a hit and there were 8 runs on the board, they continnued to threaten with more but never quite got across the plate until the 7th inning when Ruiz, not to be left out hit a solo home run to left field. Feliz and Werth each went 3 for 5 with an RBI each and Werth also scored a couple of runs, excellent work from the 6 and 7 spot of the batting order, both managed to raise there averages to respectable levels.

As I said at the begining, excellent show by the Phillies, but spare a thought for the Padres who had to endure that bus ride to Philadelphia after getting off a plane ride…. Okay thought over, I know the Padres are struggling, but I don’t feel that sorry for them.

The only damper on the game, was again the Phillies commentators, unfortunately I watch via MLBTV and since I am in BFE, OH. I can not get the radio station for the Phillies so have to put up with the TV commentary, and after reading a blog post today at How ‘Bout Them Phils  it just emphasized how they comment on the most obvious things, and seem to talk and joke about things that unless you have been with them all day would have no idea and not get the humor of it, enough of that, read the entry “Phillies Need a New TV Team” from the above blog and you’ll hopefully get it.

The weekend is on us, almost and we have the St. Louis Cardinals in town, so since I showed sign of pity for the Padres do I show signs of pity for the Cards, you see today they flew in to Washington from Texas, have a night game with the Nats, which has overloadedtrain.jpgalready had a rain delay and I think at this time they are in another rain delay and it’s only the top of the 7th inning, you know, I know you have to be fair to all but the Cards are going to catch the
train from Washington to Philly, not sure if the plan is tonight or tomorrow, well the way the game is going there now it will be tomorrow regardless, but surely it’s not going to affect the Nats and the Cards have a 4-1 lead, you’d think they’d call the game and give it to the Cards. Back to the question should I have pity on the Cards for these  unfortunate occurances that could be detrimentle to their stay in Philly, well I thought about this for all of a minute, I know to long, shouldn’t hesitate, but I don’t think so.

I am sure the Cards fans wouldn’t have any sympathy for the Phillies if the tables were turned, we even did them a favor by issuing 2 loses to the Cubs, what more could they want. Nope sorry no sympathy, enjoy your stay in Philadelphia, you know the ‘City of Brotherly Love’,

UPDATE:

Since I wrote this at around 11:30 pm last night the Cards and Nats game was called early, around 1 am this morning I think, so the ump’s did the Cards a favor, so they could get the train to Philly. We are bound to see their newly acquired Lugo in Philly this weekend, I am sure some Cards fans are thrilled with this and others not so happy, we’ll see if it makes a difference in Philly this weekend.